Cleaning George W. Gould’s Gravestone

AVEM0937Before (L.) and After (R.) … Today, July 15, 2019,  I made the long drive to Paxton, MA with the express purpose of cleaning the gravestone of my adopted Civil War soldier, Private George W. Gould.  I purchased a professional conservation kit, studied up a bit, and then spent 1 1/2 hours cleaning and scrubbing the stone. The results are quite extraordinary!
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When I arrived I was pleased to see that the flag I had placed on Memorial Day was still there, along with the laminated tag I had attached to it referencing this project that includes a link to this website.

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On my last visit, I noticed how bad the stone looked: dirty, discolored and marred with lichen and other growths.

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I came equipped with a professional conservation cleaning kit that I had purchased, which was recommended to me by someone who regularly tends to soldiers’ graves.  I also brought along several gallons of water. I read the instructions prepared by a conservator carefully, watched a helpful video, and set off on a mission to carefully clean this stone.

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While the final phase of cleaning involves utilizing a biologic called D/2, a safe biodegradable liquid that removes stains from mold, algae, mildew, lichens and air pollutants, most of the process consists of spraying water on the stone and scrubbing. Lots of scrubbing …

Scrubbing the Stone

… lots and lots of scrubbing 

IMG_2357IMG_2358It is tedious work, to some degree, but highly rewarding. And even exciting: gradually, the identifying marks of the original stonecutter became visible at the lower right hand corner of the stone!  This was fully obscured prior to clean. 

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It turned out to be a lot of hard work, but the final result was quite impressive when compared to the original state of the stone!

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The difference is especially apparent when juxtaposed with the nearby grave of Gould’s daughter, Ada, who died of illness in an orphanage when she was only seventeen years old. I plan to return and clean her gravestone next . . .

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My work today is intended as a tribute and a salute to Private George W. Gould, who died at Cold Harbor in 1864 to save the Union and end human chattel slavery.

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